The best and worst ways to sign off a work email

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email, signoff, valediction, farewell, goodbye, email etiquette

When it comes to email sign-offs, you should try to end on a high note or at least not write something off-putting.

You don't want to lose sleep over the valediction on your work email, but it does matter. It's your parting shot. It's also your chance to be a little personal. So, what's the strongest way to sign-off?

If you're Jamie Dimon, it seems you'll say nothing – just "Jamie." The same goes for Lloyd Blankfein, who simply signs-off "Lloyd." 

That doesn't mean you can get away with this, however.

“For your work email signoff, don’t make it too personal and therefore strange, or too casual,” says Hallie Crawford, the founder of HallieCrawford.com Career Coaching.

Context matters, a lot.

“If you do not know the person well, it’s best to avoid overly casual communication so it is not misinterpreted,” says Alyssa Gelbard, the president of Point Road Group, an executive career consultancy.

We conducted an informal poll of bankers, recruiters and career coaches to find out their favorite ways to end emails. This is what we learned.

Most popular: No valediction at all

Lloyd and Jamie are onto something. Experienced Wall Streeters told us they don't go for "Warmest regards,” "Yours faithfully" or any other cliché. They just end their email and have it roll right into their signature.

“It says you’re all business,” claims one former investment banker, who picked it up from his boss. “It's intimidating and makes you move.”

Be warned, however, ending abruptly can rub some people the wrong way. A lack of closing can be misinterpreted as not caring, disinterested or even disrespectful, says Gelbard.

“Taking the time to type a few extra characters and write a decent email sign-off can help prevent misinterpretation by the recipient,” she adds. “The message having no closing salutation sends is that since you weren’t interested in taking any time to type a close, that perhaps you don’t care that much about the email subject or recipient.”

Safe: "Best regards" 

This is Wall Streeters' second choice. "Best” or “Best regards” is vanilla enough to not say much about you or your relationship with the email recipient. It’s “safe” – not too casual nor too formal. A simple “Regards” is in the same camp. Some people like "Warm regards" too.

One of these is a good option when you don't know a person well, but want to be safe and friendly, says Gelbard.

Outdated: "Sincerely/Very truly yours"

“What, are you living in the 19th century?” said another banker. “Sincerely,” “Yours truly,” "Sincerely yours" and “Very truly yours” are old, stodgy and overly formal. “Maybe for a cover letter, but not in the office."

Only if you're in the U.K.: "Cheers"

Cheers might be OK if you're working in the City of London and don't mind being perceived as a 'geezer.'

Only if you're in Italy: "Ciao"

If English is your first language, then you risk sounding a bit pretentious, but some people may be able to pull it off.

Only for the young and inexperienced: "Thanks" and "Thank you"

Unless you want to stamp “young and inexperienced” on your forehead, steer clear of thanking everyone under the sun in emails. It’s overly gracious and, worse, it “exudes weakness,” says one VP at an investment bank. Avoid "Thanks for your consideration." Constantly thanking someone in work exchanges subconsciously places you on the bottom rung. "Looking forward to hearing from you" gives off a similarly weak vibe.

“And whatever you do, no exclamation points,” he adds.

If you know the person reasonably well: "Looking forward," "Speak with you soon" or "Take care"

These are not super-formal, but they are totally inoffensive. A slightly less formal version is "Talk soon."

Other tips:

  • Have a strong closing sentence: “Take the time to write a closing sentence that includes an action item, deadline you will meet or reference to a next step, and sign it 'Sincerely' or 'Best regards' or 'Thank you again,'” says Crawford. “Be more formal than less formal in this case.”

  • Avoid abbreviations: Another pitfall to avoid is using emojis, XOXO or abbreviations like “lmk,” “ttyl,” "tafn" or “lol,” or even “Rgds.” or “Thx.” Come on, you only need to type a few more characters to complete the word!

  • Smell ya later: Along those same lines, avoid anything that’s too informal or jokey, like “Hasta la vista, baby.” Not everyone has a sense of humor, especially in a professional context. “'See ya,' 'Bye' or anything informal like that which you would write to a friend in a text [message] is a no-no,” Crawford said.

Photo credit: BrianAJackson/GettyImages

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